Standing on the decks of the Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain can make you feel like a Jack Tar from the golden age of sail — minus the scurvy.
But don’t be fooled when the ships dock at the Port of Everett from May 25-30. The square-rigged sailing vessels are not 200 years old, but replicas of maritime trading vessels from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Operated by the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, the Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain visit more than 40 ports up and down the West Coast every year. They re-enact naval battles with black powder cannons, embark on sailing excursions and open the decks for tours. There also are opportunities to join the crew.
The 100-ton ships return to Everett annually.
“It’s a chance to get up close and personal with a part of our history,” said Zachary Stocks, program development officer for the Aberdeen-based historical seaport.
Local schools reserve excursions aboard the ships to learn about maritime trading history and sailors’ lives and work.
Members of the Everett-based Sea Scouts youth sailing program visit the Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain when the ships are in port. The scouts, between ages 14 and 21, mix fun and education by exploring the ships and comparing their construction and rigging.
“They’ll definitely run around all over the deck and check everything out,” said Chris Wojahn, a Sea Scouts adult leader. “Once they’re done with their blitz around the boat, they’ll start to do comparisons.”
The Lady Washington is a replica of the first American-flagged vessel to sail around Cape Horn, visit the West Coast and reach Japan in the late 1700s. The ship made landfall near Tillamook, Oregon, and traded sea otter pelts with coastal Native Americans in 1789. It spent some time in Puget Sound, and later traded tea and porcelain in China before foundering in the Philippines in 1797.
Its modern-day replica is a celebrity in its own right.
The 111-foot wooden vessel, originally launched in 1989, portrayed the “HMS Interceptor” in the film “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” in 2003. It appeared in other films and television series, too, including “Star Trek Generations” and “Blackbeard.”
The historical seaport, with the help of master shipwrights from around the Pacific Northwest, built the replica over a two-year period to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Lady Washington reaching Grays Harbor, named after its captain, Robert Gray.
It became Washington state’s official ship in 2007.
The 107-foot Hawaiian Chieftain was built in 1988 in Maui, Hawaii, and was purchased by the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport in 2005. The steel-hulled vessel is based on cargo ships that traded between the Hawaiian Islands in the 19th century.
Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, a nonprofit organization, has offered educational opportunities and entertainment aboard its ships for more than 25 years.
The crew that runs the ships is made up of volunteers and future commercial maritime industry workers. Wannabee sailors ages 16 and up can join the Two Weeks Before the Mast program as a 14-day volunteer sail trainee for $750. Volunteers learn the basics of knots, sail theory, and traditional and modern marine maintenance skills.
The Sea School Northwest program, open to sailors ages 18-35, is an eight-week maritime workforce training program on the Hawaiian Chieftain. It’s designed to prepare cadets for work on tugboats and other kinds of workboats.
Adventure sails and evening sails are two-hour daytime and nighttime sailing excursions on Puget Sound. Adventure sails allow passengers to take part in running the ship, including taking the helm under the crew’s supervision. Evening sails are more relaxing. Both excursions cater to families and couples.
Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain become “enemies” during battle sails, conducting maneuvers under full sail and firing mock cannons at each other.
Passengers are aboard the ships during the battles, but sorry, gunslingers — only the crew gets to fire the cannons. But that doesn’t mean you can’t root for your ship to win the day.
“We want the guests to actually be involved and cheer as much as they like,” Stocks said. “It’s a chance to be loud and have a lot of fun.”
Evan Thompson: 360-544-2999; firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
The Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain will be docked May 25-30 at the Port of Everett, 1726 W. Marine Drive, Everett.
Three-hour battle sails are set for 2 p.m. May 26 and May 27. Tickets range from $42 to $79.
Two-hour adventure sails are scheduled for 11 a.m. May 27 and 6 p.m. May 28 for $42-$45. Two-hour evening sails will be at 6 p.m. May 25 and May 26.
The vessels will be open for walk-on tours from 4 to 5 p.m. May 25, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 26, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 27 and 4 to 5 p.m. May 28 and May 29. A $5 donation is suggested for walk-on tours.
More at www.historicalseaport.org by calling 800-200-5239.